room was filled with the happy sounds of loud chatter and laughter. The clones sat together at one table talking and sipping
an alcoholic drink the Neumites called salala. The walls of the dining room were covered with blooms of flowers that filled
the room with their heady scent. The tables were laden with varieties of fruits and vegetables of which everyone partook.
chatter dwindled to silence as Meehun stood up to address the revelers.
is the anniversary of our escape from the Scuddar. We have reason to rejoice but we will never forget those that were consumed
all those years ago. As we celebrate, let us also have them in our mind. Let us remember the emptiness that slowly crept into
our mind as those that perished went from us one by one at an ever-increasing rate. Let us remember the horror and loneliness
we felt although we, the survivors, had each other.
us remember those that resisted for so long and helped us even though they were doomed. Remember how they kept contact with
our mind until their resistance failed them. Without them, we would never have learned how to monitor the movements of the
Scuddar or learn of its plans. Without they help we would never have been able to stay free.
celebrate, let us also rejoice that our alien friends have joined forces with us to rid the universe of the threat of the
Scuddar. They have left their world to aid us. They have made a sacrifice and left their own kind to be with us.
continue the celebrations." Meehun sat down again as the room gradually filled once more with chatter and laughter.
blocked his mind from his six companions and stared into the bowl that contained his drink. Of the seven clones, he was the
one that had made the greatest sacrifice. The other six had never had the chance to experience life on Earth. They never made
any friends they had to leave behind. They had never fallen in love as he had with Gina. He became lost in his own thoughts.
had scoured the minds of the clones for three days searching for any clues the Scuddar may have given as to the whereabouts
of its seed. They had found one conclusive location of the most advanced seed. A further four days passed while the Neumites
searched for the world and the seed. They found the world but only an approximate position of the seed.
the clones will leave Neum to seek out the seed and destroy it. Neegon had told them the world on which the seed was growing
had a primitive species that had limited intelligence. The Neumites did not know to what extent, if any, the Scuddar seed
had attacked the species.
preliminary examination shows the alien species is continuing its activities so perhaps the Scuddar has not attacked yet."
Neegon had explained.
stirred from his thoughts and looked around the table. Adrian was having a discussion with Michelle that both seemed
deeply engrossed in. Charles was bringing peals of laughter from the others with jokes that seemed to flow from him non-stop.
The wine was loosening the tension brought on by the intensive learning and training they had undergone the past few weeks.
up and announced that he was returning to his room.
feel a little tired," he said in reply to their questions. "You carry on having fun." He touched a button on his belt and
was immediately transported to his home.
for a long time looking out of the window at the stars. He recognised none of the constellations and knew he wouldn’t
see the sun that Earth orbited but he searched anyway. Somewhere out there Sol was a point of light. Somewhere out here Gina
lived and breathed.
thought about the relationship they had enjoyed. They had met at a party celebrating the anniversary of the birth of the first
World Government. He and Gordon had gone to the party together with the intent to see which of them would snare a girl to
sleep with first. The bet was that the loser would buy all drinks for a week.
minutes of entering the party, he saw Gina sitting with three of her friends and decided she would be the one he would sleep
with that night. He had asked her to dance with him and she accepted. From that moment on, Trevor knew he had lost the bet
with Gordon. Gina was different from the other girls he had had before and he wanted to get to know everything about her.
Gina also seemed very interested in him. They had dated at every opportunity and Trevor fell in love for the first time. He
remembered when he told her of his love for her, her smile was radiant and she told him she loved him also. They made love
that night beneath a full moon in one of the few public gardens in the city.
turned away from the window, undressed and flopped onto his bed. The next morning he would be on a planet of one of those
stars he had been gazing at. He should rest.
for a few hours tossing and turning but sleep evaded him and he gave up trying and stared at the ceiling.
you awake?" The whisper was just a brush across the surface
his mind. It was Michelle.
too. I can’t sleep," Michelle said. "All the
others are sleeping soundly."
mind is too active to sleep," said Trevor. "I’ve
just been lying here thinking."
and other things." There was a pause before Michelle answered.
too." There was another longer pause.
some company? I’ve got some of that salala." This
time it was Trevor that paused before replying.
won’t try to seduce you. I promise." Michelle said.
Trevor sensed the humour in her mind.
why not?" Trevor said. "Shall I come there or you here?"
come to you," answered Michelle. "I need the practice
seconds later Trevor heard the popping sound of her arrival in the lounge below. He pulled on his pants and went down the
stairs. Michelle was standing in the middle of the room with a bowl in each hand. Trevor guessed they contained salala. She
was still wearing the dress she wore at the celebration. It was a red, figure-hugging dress made to her specifications by
the Neumites. Trevor mentally complimented her on her dress designing abilities.
accepted the bowl she held out to him and invited her to sit down. She chose the couch and curled her legs up onto it. Trevor
smiled. He had always wondered why women sat like that on couches while men never do. He chose an armchair facing her and
raised his bowl.
he said, taking a sip of the salala wine.
echoed Michelle. Then she added, "Whatever that may be."
you worried about tomorrow?" asked Trevor.
really. I’m worried about you." She smiled and took another sip of wine.
Why?" Trevor frowned. His curiosity showing on his face.
been pretty subdued since Gina left," answered Michelle. "I know you must miss her a lot but you have to get over it. Don’t
let it affect your reactions tomorrow."
thought about what she had said. Had it been so obvious that he was feeling sorry for himself? He recalled that the last week
the clones had more or less left him alone. Even at the celebration they just attended they had been talking and joking among
themselves while he was deep in thought.
worry. Nothing is going to affect my reactions if there is any danger."
studied his face. Trevor had the impression she wanted to ask him something but was reluctant to approach the subject.
are you thinking now?" he asked, attempting to get her to say what she wanted. She laughed. Her white teeth contrasting against
the red of her lips and her cheeks turning pink. Trevor never thought he would ever see Michelle embarrassed.
think I was silly if I told you." She looked down and picked an imaginary hair or lint from her dress and tossed it away.
me," Trevor replied. Michelle looked at him hard debating whether to proceed, then made up her mind.
get much chance to talk one on one with each other so I hold back a lot of what I want to say or ask," she began. "I joke
along with the other guys because I know what they are thinking." She fell silent and rubbed her ankle. Trevor watched her
slender fingers stroking her skin. Even in such an absent-minded action her sensuality was evident.
up, her face now serious as she studied his eyes. "I don’t like being me!" she blurted out. "I wish I were like Angela
or Stephanie. Not me."
sudden confession was unexpected and Trevor’s surprise showed. Michelle’s eyes fixed on his as she searched for
any indication that he would laugh at her. She didn’t see amusement in them.
you are a lovely woman. You have qualities that most women of Earth would give anything to have," Trevor said.
maybe. Here they are not really assets. I am different. You shouldn’t have chosen me for this mission."
considered Michelle’s words. He hadn’t known what the personalities of the clones would be when he chose them.
He was more concerned about their usefulness for the mission.
want to go back to Earth?" he asked.
I just wish I was not me." She replied. "The spires intrigue me and I want to know how they work once this mission is over."
is why I chose you. I only had twenty-four clones to choose from and you seemed to have the better skills to understand the
would have thought a physicist would have a horny personality?" Michelle laughed. "I guess I’ll never know what love
is. I mean love not lovemaking!"
a feeling you and Adrian were getting along fine."
"Adrian’s nice but there is nothing between us. I think I scare
him!" Michelle laughed again. Trevor laughed with her. Adrian
was the biggest of all the clones. He stood over an inch taller than the rest and had muscles any man would be proud to have.
To imagine him scared of Michelle was amusing.
scare Joseph. He’s the type that would prefer a demure little woman that would scream at the sight of a cockroach."
Charles?" asked Trevor. He found it amusing that Michelle had already summed the male clones up in her mind.
is definitely Stephanie’s type. I think she is his type too. It wouldn’t surprise me if they start getting really
interested in each other," Michelle said confidently. She looked at Trevor with her head tilted to one side and raised an
eyebrow. "That leaves the older and mysterious Trevor. The only one among us that has experienced love."
laughed out loud. "There’s nothing mysterious about me," he said. "I’m an open book, as the saying goes."
swung her legs off the couch and leaned toward him, her arms resting on her knees and her eyes bright. "Tell me about love,
Trevor. How do you know when you are in love?"
shrugged and his eyes searched the floor as if the answer would spring up in front of him.
know. How can one explain it? You are attracted to someone and love grows. You just know you are in love."
leaned back, a little disappointed. "I’m attracted to you. Does that mean I will grow to love you? What if the other
person doesn’t love you back?"
outspoken questions embarrassed Trevor. For a moment he was at a loss for words. "I guess it just won’t work out if
the love is not returned," he said. "They have to go their separate ways. One of them gets hurt."
nodded thoughtfully, then stood up.
better be going. Tomorrow is a big day," she said. "Thanks for talking to me."
talk more another time," replied Trevor. He went to her and gave her a hug.
touched a button on her belt and vanished.